Every one has a fantasy team for the new Premier League season they have spent doubting themselves again and again, tinkering sometimes too much.
We all know there is no one right way to go about it. So without much ado, here is my team, and my thoughts on each player in the starting 15.
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford and Wayne Hennessy alternate well and are both medium-range value custodians.
Defenders: Andrew Robertson and Hector Bellerin have matured at Liverpool and Arsenal and remain in the attacking moves despite their respective teams’ aggressive prowess. At 5.5m, Bellerin looks more appealing to those like me who do not want to invest much in the defence.
Midfielders: It is important to address the elephant in the room first. With a whopping price tag of 13m, you either break the bank for Mohamed Salah or you use the money for minimum of three midfielders and two forwards in the premium category.
With more than 51 per cent of ownership with Salah, it is a safety first approach to go with the popular choice and then spread the bets if Salah proves to be a one-season wonder. Assuming that Salah’s turnover in terms of points is a modest average of his past season, some may deem it a success, but the points per game or returns on cost dips significantly. That’s why if Salah doesn’t turn out to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, the midfielder’s price tag could mar the FPL managers badly. For now, only because Liverpool have a favourable run of fixtures, Salah’s inclusion gets the nudge in what was a tough call.
For the rest of the line, the midfield options across the club is tantalisingly widespread, especially in the 5-7m and 9-10m ranges. Jorginho should be in a more central position than N’Golo Kante but the latter is embedded in public memory and hence owned by many in the 5m bracket. Xherdan Shaqiri should impress and can be a great differential for Liverpool fans if they cannot afford Salah and Sadio Mane. Likewise, Christian Eriksen will get more play after Dele Alli went off the boil and it is upto the latter to change the pecking order from Eriksen and Son Hyeung-min. Fred is the cheaper cousin to Paul Pogba. City’s midfield riches make it difficult to pick one although Bernardo Silva offers a budget option to Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and David Silva. Among the minnows, Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) and Jota (Wolves) are interesting offerings for differential picks. Ultimately, I have gone for a more known line-up and dropped Shaqiri for now. Maybe later.
Forwards: Like Salah last season, this could be the breakout year for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. One is very bullish on his position in the team line-up and his equation with the new manager Unai Emery blending into the wave of freshness at Arsenal. After the starting hurdle of Manchester City, it should be a smooth drive. Once that happens, the support cast will settle down. Right now, Cenk Tosun and Wilfred Zaha have fixture ease and individual ambitions going for them. Many managers are excited about Mario Arnautovic but I will be cautious to tread space where Javier Hernandez aka Chicharito was a major disappointment. Joshua King is a strong and cheaper alternative to keep in the back of the mind. Bournemouth’s Jermain Defoe can be a good gamble as he eyes another transfer move on the wrong side of 35 years.
As said earlier, there is no one right way about it. Pre-season fixtures do not count for much except what formation and chemistry a player is a part of in the team.
All the best to all and as always feel free to drop in a comment here or on my Twitter timeline @kumarshyam.